The Keizer-based Oregon Panther 12A softball team won the state championship on July 11, at Wallace Marine Park in Salem.
There were nine 12A teams across the state that competed throughout the weekend in the double-elimination tournament.
The Oregon Panthers roster includes four girls from Keizer, three from Salem, two from Turner, and one each from McMinnville and Newberg.
The girls from Keizer include Alyx Crager, Kinsey McNaught, Kimi Ito, and Kiana Villarreal. The other seven team members are Krysta Slate, Tabby Humphreys, Madi Hopper, Lauren Radley, Kennan Feiring, Sam Hensley, and Paityn Willoughby.
The Panthers were able to go 4-0 in the tournament and keep itself in the winners bracket throughout the weekend.
Those falling to the losers bracket had many more games to get back to the tournament championship game.
Nonetheless, the Panthers had a very tough four game run playing three of the strongest 12A teams in the state.
They defeated the Northwest Blaze, 6-4, in the first round, the Oregon Fever, 11-6 , in the second round, and the Northwest Thunder, the state champion the last two years, 10-6 in a game that pitted the two remaining undefeated teams.
The Thunder made it back to the championship game where they fell again to the Panthers, 9-4.
The Panthers were led by pitchers Hensley, Slate, and Crager. The trio managed to hold the high powered Thunder, coached by University of Oregon softball head coach Mike White, to four earned runs and seven combined hits. They also struck out six.
The Panthers’ offense, meanwhile, was potent all weekend. In the championship game, they scattered 14 hits and scored nine runs. Crager went 3-4 with one RBI, while Slate, Ito, Radley, and Kiana were all 2-4 with four RBIs.
The Panthers found themselves down early, 3-1, in the championship game. However, they tied it in the fourth on Crager’s RBI single and then exploded for four more runs in the fourth inning to put the game away.
Crager closed the last 2 2/3 innings, with the final out coming on a ground out to Hopper at shortstop.
The Panthers now put their focus on competing in Indiana at the national championships from August 3-8.
For information on providing donations to the team and their fundraising effort, please contact Rick Crager at 503-390-9589 or e-mail Crager at firstname.lastname@example.org.